We are still in the middle of one of the biggest transformations in humanity. I am thinking digitization. Sure, there are many others that are happening simultaneously and digitization started a while ago. That’s how innovation works, with “nested S curves” whose effect aggregates and produces the exponentials we are experiencing.
Digitization has proven to be something that goes beyond listening to your music without any audible scratches, or being able to take a gazillion photographs. To explain, I’ll use the metaphor of money.
When humankind introduced money, we not only introduced an easier convertibility between chickens and bushels of grain. But we also introduced convertibility between anything of value, including services. In addition to this, we also did away we need of carrying the actual money. If we had a relationship with a merchant, and we have paid them reliably, we had credit, and we could transact just with writing down the value of things. Then we were able as well to skip steps in the middle. A complicated transaction like “can I have three bottles of oil? The blacksmith can pay you, because he owes me” gets reduced to a simple arithmetic operation. We also became asynchronous, we could sell one thing today, buy something on Monday. We may have even stored the value for a few months.
Digitization has a similar effect, but not only on value, but ON EVERYTHING that’s digitized. We can refer to something without having to haul it around. I can “send” you a document, or a photograph without actually sending it. I can just provide a link. So I can put anything digital on a ledger. And even more interesting is that there is convertibility. Once something is digitized, it is just ones and zeroes, and ones and zeroes can be treated the same, if we chose to, no matter if they represent an image, a document, or even videos or voice. This is what allowed the Internet to transport anything, but is now allowing large language models (LLMs) to cross from one domain to another, hence the explosion of AI tools in every domain.
Not everything is digitized yet. What do you think is the next frontier?